671. Friday 29th to Sunday 31st March 2019. A trip to Balmain then we fly home…

No Apologies for the large volume of photos today. I took 92 photos on Sunday and narrowed them down to the 36 shown here. This was a nostalgic trip for me and a trip down my memory lane for Donnis and my wonderful sisters.  It takes time to edit those photos, research some information and caption the photos.

Friday 29th March

Today Een and Shan (Enid and Sandra) had arranged to see West Side Story presented on Sydney Harbour at The Fleet Steps, Mrs MacQuaries Point. Bev, Pete, Donnis and I spent the day at home, I was busy editing 242 wedding photos down to a final 16. Late in the afternoon we drove to visit Mitch and Sam at their house. We were given the leftover cheese wine and flowers before we headed off to see a concert in the park outside Sutherland Shire Council offices. Apart from the goodies we took, plus the extra cheese and wine we also bought some Honey Chilli chicken wings. It was a pleasant evening, not hot with just a touch of a chill in the air as we sat on camp chairs and listened to the free concert.

Saturday 30th March

Our original plan for today was to do the Clifftop Walk from Malabar Beach to Maroubra Beach and return. Overnight there was very heavy rain with thunder and lightning and some roads being flooded. It was still raining off and on. The walk location skirts a rifle range at Malabar and Maroubra and the walk is closed EVERY Saturday due to firing on the range. WHAT THE!!! We have been waiting two months for this walk and it is closed! OK lets have a plan B. Catch the train to Circular Quay and catch the ferry to Cockatoo Island the old Naval Base.

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Sydney Opera House from Circular Quay Jetty 6 as we waiting for our ferry.
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Circular Quay Railway Station seen from the busy ferry terminal s and International Cruise Ship Dock.

Oh No! Trackworks are being held on the rail line and replacement buses are being used. We caught the express bus to Central Station, as we arrived the sun was winning its battle against the overcast. There were clear patches of sky. We then caught a train to Circular Quay and found we just missed the ferry to Cockatoo Island and the next is 45 minutes away. By now the sun was showing mastery and the day looked set to be a bright blue sky day.

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The Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line Ship, Ovation of the Sea was in port for re-fueling, re-stocking and passenger excursions.
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Ovation of the Sea

OK let’s do the Parramatta River Cruise. Nope, not today!

WTF! The ferry has been cancelled due to some works on wharves and jetties. Grrr!

We could go to Luna Park, The Zoo, Manly, Watsons Bay or Balmain. I spent the first 14 years of my life in Balmain and Een was only 6 when we left. We took a vote and decided on a ferry to Balmain. I love the old houses at Balmain.300319 darling3 300319 darling2Many are terrace houses, many are made from local sandstone, many are a mix of old and new. 300319 darling1Balmain, once considered a working class suburb is now a trendy YUPPIE Community with quaint little coffee shops, delicatessens, knick knack shops and original but revamped pubs.

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The London Hotel in Darling St Balmain has been operating continuously since 1870.
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This building was burned down several years ago and nothing has happened since. I believe that because it is Heritage Listed the cost of re=building to requirements of Heritage Australia the restrictions are so severe nobody could afford or justify the cost of building. It’s a pity really as those sandstone walls are 45CM thick.

Best of all are those houses many with spectacular harbour views.

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Lovely old Balmain house in Darling St with a mix of Sandstone and brick. It has Bull Nosed Roof Capping and even a stained glass on one end of the verandah along with cast iron lacework and a tiled entry.
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A modern home using original dressed sandstone.

Once on the ferry we stopped at Luna Park where I spent many a Saturday afternoon.

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Luna Park. When I was young it was advertised as “Just Across the Bridge and Just for Fun” It was a favourite place for my mother who went there when she a girl around 1935. In fact it was opened in that year ( 3 years after the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge) but closed in 1979 after a tragic fire in the Ghost Train where 7 people lost their lives. The park has been re-opened and closed several times in the intervening years. Thankfully the land is owned by a Trust and they want to keep the park operating although it is on prime harbourside real estate.

Kids lined up at the gates for a Free entry, a few Free tickets and some Free lollies. To get there I caught the tram to East Balmain Ferry Terminal, then a ferry across to Circular Quay where I had lots of options. Catch a ferry to Milsons Point (Luna Park) catch a train to Milsons Point and walk or walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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Ferris Wheel at Luna Park.

It was a whole day away from home, lunch was unimportant and we got home when we got home. There were no phones so my parents just had to trust that I knew what I was doing at 9 years of age. Later I took my younger brother, Allan, with me!

Next stop on the ferry was Blues Point which looks like a delightful place to get off and explore. Sigh! Maybe next time.

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Blues Point Sydney Harbour.
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Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House seen from Luna Park.

Third stop off the ferry was East Balmain Ferry Terminal (in my day it was Darling Street Wharf). We stopped to look at the original sandstone building of J Fenwick and Co Boatstore,

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The old solid sandstone Fenwicks Building. A world class restaurant and gallery is being delayed due to the interference of a Greens Party controlled Council.
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An anchor on the Fenwick site.

built in the 1880’s and commanding stunning views across Sydney Harbour to Luna Park, The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo,

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Barangaroo and part of the Sydney CBD.

Blues Point, Goat Island and the Sydney CBD. The plan is to open a stylish restaurant and Art Gallery but as usual Greens politicians would rather see the old building vacant and slowly decaying on the inside. All reports suggest the restaurant will open in June but it looks as though all work has been suspended. Next as we walk the steep hill from Balmain East Wharf and up Darling Street I was mesmerised by so many of the old buildings which in most cases have been tidied up but given a new old look.

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A trendy coffee shop at East Balmain near the ferry terminal. Note the OLD Shelley’s Soft Drink sign. Shelley’s has been around somewhere around the 1930’s but was absorbed by Coca Cola somewhere about 1970 and re-badged Kirks.

The median house price is around M$3.1 and rents around $900 per week. The location of these well -built houses has arguably some of the best views in Sydney.

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A nice stand out sandstone house at East Darling St.
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Part of a charming row of old terrace houses.

Most of the houses around here are over 150 years old.

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At some stage this nuilding may have been used as a professional residence but it seems the shingle was removed a long time ago. No attempt has been made to paint the front wall and indeed the wood riot in the front door, also unpainted suggest not much maintenance has been carried out for many years.
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Balmain abounds with little laneways which connect one street with another or lead to a park or in this case, the waterfront.

At the top of the narrow Darling Street we stopped at The East Village Hotel

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East Village Hotel Darling St East Balmain.

which was built around 1871 and has been variously named over the years as a Workers Club, then The Cricketers Arms, The Monkey Bar and Le Pub before becoming East Village Hotel. It calls itself a family friendly, trendy pub and is independent, that is, it sells craft beers and oh so expensive non-traditional pub food.  Interesting décor and an in your face view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the front door.

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View of Sydney Harbour Bridge from the front door of East Village Hotel.

We had a wonderful lunch here. I must admit the servings are generous.

The street here is so narrow, the buses and cars must pull to the side to allow a bus travelling in the opposite direction to pass. I recall as a child taking the electric tram to what was then known as Darling Street Wharf. The tram stopped at a counterweight at the top of the hill. As the tram descended using the counterweight as a brake another counterweight under the roadway rose to the top of the hill. When it was time to ascend the counterweight at the top slowly moved to the bottom which pushed the upper counterweight and the tram to the top of the hill. These days the buses travel down the hill in low gear and under brakes and have a large turning circle at the bottom.

As we walked we noticed a Street Library. Now, I must have led a sheltered life. I have never seen or heard of these before.

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What a neat idea which has thousands of similar library boxes throughout Australia.I understand the concept began in the USA where they have about 35,000 street libraries whereas it is new to Oz and at present we have about 50 libraries.

The Street Library is a huge Australia wide organisation. Simply you place a colourful glass fronted bookshelf in your front yard, stock it with books and people can borrow a book by leaving a book. Have a look at this   https://streetlibrary.org.au/

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I love these colourful gets set in a colourful wall on a duplex.
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This is what I call a knick knack shop where they sell old, re-painted, re-cycled expensive items to trendy yuppie (Young Upwardly Progressive Professionals)
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Another trendy coffee shop called Ciao Thyme

We walked along Darling Street marvelling at the sights and beautiful old buildings

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We walked up the hill from the wharf and along Darling st.
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This is the original Balmain Police Watch House from 1854 until 1920 when it become a Police residence for a local Policeman, his wife and 12 children. By 1965 it was no longer used and derelict. It was then handed to the National Trust, restored and is now open to the public and administered by the Balmain Association.

to Gladstone Park where I went to Primary school which was known as both Pigeon Ground School or Balmain Demonstration School.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge seen from the entrance to Gladstone Park and my old school.

Official records show it as the latter but locals called it the former. From the school we walked to my childhood home of 14 years.

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I spent the first 14 years of my life here. There were no trees then and certainly no cast iron lace work or security grilles or bars. My father built in the upstairs verandah so my brother and I shared the verandah as our bedroom.
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The Unity Hall Hotel on the corner of Beattie St and Darling St Balmain. Information is a little sketchy but it seems the first licence was obtained in 1876 but the building may have been built some years before that. I lived just down Beattie st about 200 metres from the pub.
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The main commercial hub in Darling St. Note the coffee shops.

We walked back to Darling Street caught a bus to Queen Victoria Building in Sydney CBD, walked to Town Hall Station, caught a train to Central Station and from there caught an express replacement bus to Gymea.

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The Anzac Bridge which is one of two bridges which connects Balmain with the Sydney CBD.

It was a long, satisfying, tiring and educational day.

Sunday 31st March

Up early again. The train lines are still being worked on so Bev and Pete drove us to the airport. Luck was on our side today and we got straight on the scheduled flight.

Soon we were in Coolangatta, collected our car and stopped at the Coolangatta Markets for a coffee and an egg and bacon roll and were home in time for lunch. While enjoying my coffee I sat and listened to the entertainer while Donnis look at the various displays. At this point I must mention the little coffee van run by a happy hippie. I thought the sign said Hot Coffee 70 cents. In fact the sign said Hot 70 degrees celsius! I then noticed all the signs spread around the van saying the coffee is hot. I fell in love with the barista. She told me every cup of coffee she serves is at 70 degrees and she has been making coffee for 20 years. Yay!!!At last a Barista who really knows coffee and the temperature at which it must be served. Oh BTW the egg and bacon roll Donnis bought, was great.

It was a great few days away spending time with family.


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